How do you unlock the feeling of a home away from home?

TorontoIn today’s age of internet dating turned long-distance dating, turned forever-and-ever-amen, I have one very big and very practical question – where the hell do you live once you’re married?

No, seriously.

How do you choose?

When you meet someone from your hometown and get married, there’s no decision, we’ll live HERE of course!

But what if you didn’t have the luxury (or curse – you choose), of marrying your high-school flame and staying in the same old town?

Ryan and I didn’t meet on the internet – we met in a dive bar in Florida (the unexpected love story). He’s from upstate NY, and I’m from outside Toronto – 400 miles apart.

When we decided to get married we said to each other, “Okay, so who’s moving?”

I was new to a job that I didn’t care much, and was making diddly and Ryan was marginally more established, so I said, “I’ll move to NY then.” And did just that.

It sucked so bad.

Real talk here guys – it was one of the most emotionally overwhelming times of my life.

Adjusting to co-habituating, being married, leaving home for the first time, no ability to pay my bills, and a husband who commuted for 5 hours a day to NYC (I wish I was kidding).

I like to blame US immigration first – because I wasn’t allowed to work or leave the country for 6 months. Think about that for a second. I also could have just bucked the fuck up and adulted. It took time, and a lot of patience (thanks, Ry!) but I was spit out the other end and mostly stuck the landing.

I went from self-sufficient paying my own damn way to being 100% dependent on someone else. Also, I couldn’t leave to go visit my family and friends in Canada, couldn’t continue my career and had basically nothing to do but sit home and eat bonbons (actually, I mostly ate peanut M&Ms).

I had NOTHING to do but have Rachel Ray teach me how to cook, get a dog (miss you Wesley-roo!) and walk him for six hours a day, and fill the rest of the time at the gym, and cleaning up surprise piles of dog poop. Sidenote – now that I’m older I can think of a gazillion things I’d do with all that free time now.

While spending what little extra cash we had (or didn’t) on new placemats and candles trying to create that feeling of hominess, the biggest problem was that it never actually felt like MY HOME.

A few months later, Ry had a job opportunity in Indianapolis, I still wasn’t allowed to work, and the cost of living difference between NY and Indy was the difference between Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks – so we moved.

Then we kept moving – to a new place in Indy, to a high-rise in Chicago, then a Chicago beach condo, then Canada, then Chicago, now somewhere south of Chicago that no one has ever heard of, and when people ask me why I moved there, I tell them, “I have no fucking idea – ask my realtor”.

Why all the moving? Part job, part opportunities, part wanting to be near family, part why the hell not?

 

But all – searching.

 

I keep feeling like I’m living in someone else’s house and the rightful owners are going to come home any second and send me packing.

Searching for something we both won’t find while living somewhere other than where we grew up.

After our big summer road trip a few weeks ago – Poughkeepsie, Boston, Toronto – I noticed something.

In NY, Ry was different. He was ease. He was calmer, in his element – a familiar space.

I recognized it in him after I recognized it in myself a week later while rolling into my dad’s driveway.

I felt at peace, I knew where everything was – a lot has changed, sure – there are new strip malls being built every day, but it feels comfortable, real, easy.

Familiar.

 

Awesome – so we can both feel at “home” but only 400 miles away from each other.

 

So what are we to do?

I don’t know. I don’t have the answer. I knew something was wrong when we were nearing the end of our road trip and I was crying in the car a few blocks from home and couldn’t exactly pinpoint why. It’s not home, it all feels so temporary – I thought.

Because up until now it has felt temporary – we’ve moved 8 times in the 12 years we’ve been married. Also, the idea of a “forever home” makes me want to run away. But what exactly am I running from? I don’t ever want to buy a house that I plan on spending the next 25 years in. More like 2.5 (and time’s creeping up on expiring on our current location! Where should we go next?).

Because I didn’t feel at home in NY, and Ry didn’t feel at home in Canada, we’ve been trying to create a feeling somewhere else that just won’t exist. You can’t create that feeling of “I’ve been here forever,” if you haven’t. Someone is always compromising.

Home is where the heart is. Home is where your family is.

Blah, blah – cliché, I know.

These are all wonderful sayings, and I love our property (until something breaks, then I’m ready to throw my hands up in the air and move), and look forward to kissing the kids’ heads before bed every night no matter where we are, but…

Will I ever feel the same way about living somewhere as I do at “home” (the place I grew up)? Or is this just part of the plan and I’m lucky enough to just keep looking? I do feel very fortunate that we have the ability to can pick up and live almost anywhere we want – thanks, Internet!

Will all this moving make the kids want to be nomads someday?

Will they wish things were different? 

“If I am never sure where I am meant to be, I just look at my feet and there I am” – Vicki McLeod in her book, #untrending

For now, I’m going to focus on making wherever home is, feel like home, remembering where my feet are is where I am, and making sure my kids feel at home with me – it’s all I can do.

 

PS – you might also like, less space = less stuff = more lifeeven less stuff = even less space = even more life and 3 simple love notes that changed my life forever.

 

 

 

I missed an opportunity to help – and I feel like a jerk

sharebuck

A few weeks back I sat in a Chicago vegan restaurant sipping a frosty pinot grigio eating a braised kale, sauerkraut, and tempeh something or other. I looked up and saw a lanky man in old faded jeans take a seat just outside the window where I was sitting with a piece of cardboard and a pen.

I watched him work on his sign for a good 10 minutes while I ate lunch.

Poor guy was using a pen. You know how many times you have to go over text when you’re using a pen and you don’t have a sharpie? A GAZILLION.

It was clear enough that I could read most of what he was writing.

I read his intro, “Hi, my name is Shane. Fallen on hard times…if you donate, then thank you.”

I had an idea…

Maybe it was my suburbanite upbringing and not having any idea what it’s like to actually be hungry or want for much. I live in an abundant world that I have to consciously not eat like I have an abundance.

I thought, maybe I could help him.

I’m a mother-loving communications expert and all. My clients pay me to help them find the best words to communicate complicated, awkward, and sometimes downright scary things they have to say.

Could I help this guy? What if a well-written cardboard sign could get him an extra $20 today? What could he buy with that $20? Would he not worry about food for the next three days?

As soon as I saw his intro, I pushed my flavorless kale bowl aside, tore a sheet of lined paper out of my notebook and started writing.

 

What I wrote

I was writing attention-grabbing alternatives for Shane to include on his sign. Words that would get straight to the point, and get him more of what he needed. But first, he needed words that stand out – and didn’t read like every other cardboard sign on the streets of downtown Chicago.

Because you know what, every single person that walked by him looked directly at him while he sat here and wrote his sign. I could tell people were trying to read it as they passed. They saw him. But didn’t want him to see that they noticed.

What is wrong with us?

 

When self-doubt rears it’s ugly green head

I wanted to help him. I truly thought some cardboard-sign-sparkling would help him. But then self-doubt kicked in and I worried I’d be offending him by offering him some suggestions. I mean, I don’t go around submitting grammar corrections to all the terrible web copy and bad signage I read. (Sometimes I really really want to.) Doing this would definitely make me an asshole.

 

Would offering this man with the cardboard sign my unsolicited advice make me an asshole too?

 

I scribbled some ideas while ignoring the voice in my head…

  • I’m Shane, I’m human. I see you. Thank you.
  • I’m Shane. I’m here. Thank you for seeing me.
  • Thank you for believing in me.
  • Thank you for your generosity
  • …and a bunch more

I also planned to find the nearest CVS or Walgreens, buy him some posterboard, a few sharpies and give him the lone $20 bill from my wallet.

He started packing up – presumably to take his corner for the afternoon rush.

“Oh fuck”, I muttered, as I folded up the paper I was working on, tucked a $20 inside and ran out the door. I wandered down the same alley he traveled and came to the end. Left or right? Which way did he go? If I was a homeless guy who needed money would I go towards the Board of Trade building or towards Lake Michigan? I picked the Trade building. I stood there on each street corner looking for him. I couldn’t spot him and his cardboard sign anywhere.

Defeated, I tucked the paper holding the $20 into my pocket and headed towards the car. Hoping that I’d run into him on my way. I rehearsed in my head what I’d say, promising I didn’t mean to offend him when I handed him a list of 10 suggested signs for his cardboard sign.

But I didn’t see him.

A lesson in losery

I was too caught up in trying to be the most helpful, most amazing that I didn’t get to help him at all. The $20 is still in my wallet and I didn’t get to give it away that day.

I should have just ran outside and given him some money right away. Or maybe sat with him and helped him write some killer copy for his cardboard sign. What’s the worst that could have happened? In the least assholy way I know how, I could have really, genuinely helped him. Instead, I sat there, doing something he didn’t ask for.

Homeless

Shane, next time, I’ll be ready.

 

PS – if you liked this, maybe you’ll also like When I shut my laptop, went into the bathroom and cried and Which way to the arena?

 

 

 

 

the magic of being intentional

 

 

Be intentional.

Speak intentionally. This means not inflecting your tone at the end of a statement.

Speak confidently.

Just ask the question. Don’t apologize. Just ask.

If you don’t know something – ask. I promise you won’t look stupid – UNLESS – you preface your question with, “So this may be a stupid question…” Anything following your unnecessary disclaimer will sound like a stupid question – cross my heart.

Don’t blame me, it’s your fault for telling me you had a stupid question. Get that voice out of your head and it will get out of your communication.

Are you acting tentatively?

If you’re tentative, everyone else will either tentatively follow you, or turn the other way – and find someone who is acting with purpose.

When you’re not sure what your next move should be. Left or right, are you getting in the Starbucks line or not?

Fake it.

Pick a path, and follow it.

When you act with intention you set the stage.

For greatness. For whatever the hell you want.

When you step up and know exactly what you’re asking for without wavering – what you want will be heard.

Loud and clear.

Be intentional with your time. Spend most of your life minutes doing things you enjoy. Because why not? Memento Mori.

Be intentional with your energy. Are you going to give your precious energy to someone who tears you down? Are you going to walk around as a worry pants all day?

 

What intentional, deliberate, action will you take today?

 

PS – the deathbed thought and Ladies – what the world wants you to stop doing, right now

 

 

a remarkable way to make decisions

I have a new barometer for when I need to make a decision and I’m not sure what to do.

I ask myself this…

If I was on my deathbed would I regret this?

Granted, this can apply to many meaningless topics – best to practice with small decisions before messing with the big ones.

Like:

Should I go to Starbucks today? 

Deathbed thought: Gee, I wish I drank less soy hazelnut no foam lattes

 

Should I open a new bottle of wine?

Deathbed thought: Man, I wish I drank less wine

 

Should I grab another hunk of dark chocolate?

Deathbed thought: I wish I ate less chocolate in this life

 

Should I leave work at 2pm to take Jacob to hockey practice?

Deathbed thought: I wish I worked more instead of leaving early for practice

 

Should I work less?

Deathbed thought: I totally regret working less – all that extra time spent doing things I loved was stupid

 

Should I write a blog post about this topic most would call meaningless?

Deathbed thought: You totally wrote too much. What a waste.

 

Should I book the ticket to the book writing workshop?

Deathbed thought: Naw, you shouldn’t have invested in yourself

 

Should I tell Ry I just finished the last drop of wine?

Deathbed thought: No, he should drink faster

There’s a problem with this kind of thinking – it could lead me to make decisions that might be seen as irrational by others.

Decisions like quitting my job, dying my hair lavender, moving across the country, moving to another country.

In the end, these decisions aren’t necessarily reckless or irrational. It depends on your risk tolerance.

I’ve lived in 3 states, and 2 countries. A date 300 miles from home in the Adirondacks with a pretty much a stranger led to the ride of my life. Every time I pack up to move, people called me crazy.

Ryan brings home a new bike (for the third time), brings home chickens, ducks, a dog – crazytown they say.

What if it sucks? They’d say?

And what if it doesn’t?

And – what’s your deathbed thought about it?

Because in the end, that’s all that really matters.

PS – Death upsets us because it reminds us of our own mortality

Dear kids, this is what mommy really wants for Mother’s Day

 

Dearest family,

Last week, over guacamole, chips and tacos, when I asked you, “Hey kids, do you know what next Sunday is?”

You stared at me with your beautiful blank little faces in between unapologetically large scoops of guac (husband, this includes you).

I politely and ever so gently reminded you, “It’s Mother’s Day.”

“Oh.” You replied. Still surprised.

Then I asked you, “What are you doing for me?”

And you gave me more blank looks.

It’s okay, your blood sugar was probably a little low, the guacamole was delicious, and maybe you didn’t hear me over the crunches of corn chips fresh out of the fryer, or the slurping of my margarita between sentences.

I really don’t expect much, and this, of course, is just me giving you a hard time. It’s the one day of the year I get a hall pass to act like a spoiled brat. You get the other 364.

Truthfully, I don’t want anything for Mother’s day. I have everything I need.

Now, this isn’t a trick. I have everything I need.

I love every shrinky dink necklace, picture frame and every little piece of art you created with love.

Especially the card you made for me last year.

 

MothersDayCard

“Mom, thank you for feeding me”

 

I love how you know just how to keep it real.

I mean, I have an Amazon wish list (who doesn’t?), you know, in case you want to get me something and need a little guidance. If you don’t, that’s cool too – I’ll buy it for myself. One of the greatest perks of being a working mom.

 

If you’re thinking about doing something nice, here are some easy ideas for you:

  1. Sleep in. You. Not me. I want you to sleep in. For some reason, your supersonic sixth sense detects when my eyelids flutter open and you pop out of bed like a strawberry pop tart. Yet, you can’t hear me when I ask you to feed the dog – so weird. I want you to sleep in so I can get up early and have some quiet time. Time to read, write, make tea, go for a walk.
  2. Wake up happy. When you do get up, you can come join me, I’ll give you all the squeezes.
  3. Ask Daddy. For breakfast, to help you find your ballet shoes or your hockey pucks, the ketchup. Daddy is good at looking for stuff too. Yes, I know, he’s not as good as me, but you need to keep training him. Asking him where to find mom doesn’t count.
  4. Send me away. I love you, and I’m happy about the quality time we get to spend together. See, I’m an introvert. What this means is I need a good amount of alone time to recharge. I’m a better mom when I have lots of quiet time. You could send me away for the day, the weekend, heck – the whole week! I don’t need to go far, I’m happy to go to Starbucks or a bookstore and wander around for a few hours.
  5. Go away. I say this in the nicest possible way. I’m not being mean, but if you prefer to go out instead of sending me out, that’s cool. I’ll stay home, have some wine and catch up on some sunshine and reading.
  6. Pick up your stuff. Every time I step on a toy I feel happy inside, even though I sometimes say some bad words – especially if it’s a Lego piece. I really do love stepping on your crap, I get to have these little people in my life who leave reminders of how full of life and play you are all over the house. If I step on said piece of crap too many times, or if it really hurts, it may have earned a spot in the garbage bin. Save my feet, save the stuffed seals, keep your stuff in your room.
  7. Treat every day like Christmas. You know how on Christmas morning you say, “I wish every day was like Christmas!” It can be – act like it’s Mother’s day every day, and your wish will be granted.

 

That’s all. This is a pretty reasonable list. I’ll be happy with just one of these free items.

Whatever you choose to do, or not do is perfect. Just like you.

 

Love,

Mom

 

PS – remember to put your gym clothes in your bag

PPS – thanks for leaving your giant turd in the toilet for me to find – I’m really happy to see how healthy you are

PPPS – an open letter to women without kids, soon-to-be-moms, new moms, and moms with oodles of practice

 

vegan, not vegan, vegan, maybe

 

 

Vegan. Not Vegan. Vegan again. Maybe.

Veganish?

I think.

 

You guys, I really, really want to keep food unfussy, but sometimes it sounds fussy.

No dairy

No meat

No seafood

No gluten

Seafood

Meat, no eggs

No meat

When I run through the list of things I don’t eat – it certainly sounds fussy.

But to keep it real, my attitude about it needs to stay cool.

I believe we should all eat whatever the hell we want. I don’t give a flying frisbee what you eat and I’ll never give you heck for it.

So why am I talking to you about this today? Because I’m a big believer in telling stories. And it might just be what someone needs to hear today.

 

Let’s get you up to speed

Back in 2010, we all nixed dairy. An Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist wanted to chop Jacob’s tonsils out and stick tubes in his ears. He wasn’t even two yet you guys. Mama bear had to find some answers. Thankfully, I didn’t have to look far, or long. Stop number two after the ENT office was a naturopath in the same building where I was getting massages (side note, in Canada, most companies give you an annual massage allowance).

Me with my monthly sinus infections and farts every time I look at yogurt. Jacob with his vomity past, spitting up after every snack since birth, constant mouth breathing (though Ry attributes this to his Canadian-ness), and back-to-back-to-back sinus infections, bronchitis, and antibiotics.

Our naturopath said, “try avoiding dairy for a few weeks then reintroduce it and see how you do”. I had some ice cream after a few weeks and wanted to die. Jacob was doing so much better without it I didn’t bother reacquainting him with cow secretions (sounds gross, but really you guys – that’s what it is.) Read the full story here. 

Reality (fact) check:

  • 6 years later, both Jacob and I haven’t had a sinus infection and haven’t needed antibiotics (though he does get the stink eye from time to time – kids are gross yo)
  • Talia, approaching 5, has never had a glass of milk, or yogurt, though she sometimes sneaks some goldfish under the bleachers like a rebel – has NEVER needed antibiotics
  • Jacob and I still breathe through our mouths when we’re thinking hard, writing (me), or playing video games (J)

Feeling a gazillion times better after keeping dairy off our plates, I removed meat. Same thing – I just felt better. Until I didn’t.

I was vegan until I wasn’t. I woke up one day and just wanted a steak. So I had one.

Now, I’m being forced to say I’m vegan again.

PETA is not sitting here with a gun to my head, but I’ve been forced to answer some hard questions that leave me with no choice.

The big one:

If I can’t kill it myself, what right do I have eating it?

See, my backyard is growing a farm. Ryan leaves the house for coffee, ends up at the local Tractor Supply Company (TSC) for PVC pipe, returns with 6 chicks. Returns 2 weeks later for chicken feed, returns with 2 ducklings. At least he returned with what he set out to get. The PVC he needed on trip one had to wait for another day.

kids-chicks

As Jacob read a bedtime story to the chicks, Ry explained this is where chicken wings come from.

 

Drop the mic.

 

What???? Even though we had told him where chicken nuggets come from a thousand times, once he had named the baby chickens, the thought of eating them was absurd.

He proclaimed, “I’m never eating anything with the word chicken in it ever again.”

Jacob_chicken

Until of course, his hockey team heads to Buffalo Wild Wings for lunch. Nugget what?

When Ry told the kids what was going to happen when they were done laying eggs – something about chopping their heads off, Jacob screamed, “NO!” while Talia (4) had a face of, tell me more about this beheading business daddy, and “when do I get to chop their heads off?” may or may not left her mouth.

T-chicken

Then, I had bison spaghetti for dinner, and steak in my salad for lunch the next day.

Jacob had a half rack of ribs.

 

Hypocrites.

All of us.
This is what Ry called us. I couldn’t argue – he was right.

 

The thought of killing a chicken, duck or even a larger animal like a cow or pig myself, at my hand – be it a flick of my wrist, makes me shudder. I couldn’t do it. I don’t need to try to know I couldn’t.

So should I pay someone else to do it for me?

I feel like I’d be taking the easy way out.

And totally detached. From my food, from life, from myself.

Detaching is easy. And hey – if you can kill your dinner yourself, cook it and eat it – I admire that. Honestly, if you can do it, that’s cool.

I can’t. So I don’t think I should eat it.

If I do, it makes me a big, fat, hypocrite.

Why am I telling you this today?

I don’t want to convince you to join the V team. Even when I “wasn’t vegan” – I was like 95% vegan.

Curiosity.

I’m curious about what the kids will decide when they see their first chicken being killed for meat. In the end, they’re going to eat whatever they want – and they should. In the meantime, though, if I’m cooking, which is 99.9999% of the time – they’re having vegetables.

I’m curious what they’ll lean towards eating when one parent will eat anything and the other is more selective. 

Unjudgy, unfussy. Keep it curious.

PS – I’m not vegan anymore and vegan and an omnivore sittin’ in a tree…

Ladies – what the world wants you to stop doing, right now

 

cropped-Jacq_rest.jpg

The other day I was part of a meeting with a handful of presenters. In the audience was mostly IT folks, 80% were men. For the record, no one was in a suit.

One lady, towards the back, sitting away from everyone else who was seated in rows of tables had, at least, one question for each speaker. Questions are almost always a good thing – it shows you’re engaged and listening – always appreciated by a presenter.

Every time she started her question, I cringed.

Not because she had a question, questions are cool – it was how she started off.

“Sorry, I have a question…”

“I have a question – sorry!”

“Sorry, but…”

The world wants you to stop apologizing and stop saying you’re sorry.

For the love of all things good and holy and wonderful – stop apologizing for nothing!

Listen, ladies, I’m Canadian and I don’t even say sorry that much.

Soar-eeeeeeeee (Canadian translation).

Yes, I’m talking to you ladies. Because in the course of my day, men almost never say they’re sorry. Can you remember the last time a man apologized? Especially for something like – HAVING A QUESTION. Though, some of these men maybe should – another topic for another day.

The incessant apologizing of course, doesn’t always apply to question-asking.

Here’s how these scenes play out:

  • Someone opens a door on the other side when you’re about to go through – sorry!
  • Someone is in your way – sorry!
  • Someone accidentally bumps you – sorry!
  • I don’t agree with you – sorry!
  • I have feedback – sorry!
  • I can’t do the thing / go to the event / help you – sorry!

 

Girls, stop apologizing.

 

First, are you really sorry? Should you be sorry that someone else opened the door at the same time as you? NO! It’s not your fault.

Did you do something wrong?

Did you do something to hurt me?

Unless you just cracked me on the skull – sorry!

If you did, by all means, say you’re sorry (soar-eeee).

Let’s go a little further and look at a definition.

Feeling distress, especially through sympathy with someone else’s misfortune.

In a poor or pitiful state or condition.

If you didn’t do anything wrong, and unless you truly pity the condition of someone, ‘sorry’ can easily be swapped with this:

 

Excuse me.

 

Simple, elegant and still perfectly unfussy and polite.

Ladies – disagreeing, not having time, having an opinion, opening a door like a synchronistic swimmer, all very good reasons to NOT say you’re sorry.

How would you feel if this post was titled: ‘Sorry ladies, but you really should stop apologizing.’?

Why should you stop?

Starting a statement, any statement, with an apology instantly lowers your credibility and fogs up your message.

We can’t focus on what you’re saying because we’re too busy being on the receiving end of your misplaced sympathy. Why is she sorry? What did she do? Should I be angry?

Oh, she just reached for the salt the same time as me.

Sorry.

Not sorry.

Excuse me.

Your homework. How many times did someone apologize to you today? I’d love to hear your insights. You can email me here.

PS – why we’re all waiting for you to stop complaining about work and how to talk to your kids about your job

How to fix a no good, rotten, bad day when everything totally sucks

 

Your alarm goes off at 6 am, you peek at it and wonder how is it even time to get up already, didn’t I just go to sleep?

In the process of turning your alarm off you spill your water all over your night stand. Shit, shit, shit.

You clean it up, hop in the shower where the water takes forever to warm up. You drop the soap, then the razor. Because your hands are so slippery from the soap, you drop the razor exactly ninety times.

You grab the conditioner first instead of the shampoo…grrr. Rinse it out, grab the right bottle, shampoo, rinse, condition, rinse – and get on with your morning.

Off to the kitchen to make your healthy breakfast smoothie – you put in the spinach, the banana, the extra flax seed (cause it’s the kind of day that calls for extra flax), turn it on. CRAP! You left the lid off and there’s smoothie all over your kitchen.

The kids just woke up and have bigfooted their way into the living room, are fighting over what show to watch on television and whining over their breakfast options – cereal, waffles or a bagel.

“But I want scrambled eggs and bacon …WAHHHHH!”

In your head you’re thinking, I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!

But you keep your cool.

The ability to keep your cool is an act of willpower akin to taking water from a well. The more water you use up throughout the day, means you’re going to be using dry shampoo tonight.

You can’t pour from an empty cup.

So what do you do? You’ve been awake for 20 minutes and you’re thinking about how your day totally sucks already.

Thankfully you get out the door fairly easily, because you’ve read this and started putting some of these into practice already.

At work, you get some feedback on a report you spent the last two Saturday’s working on. No one likes it, they identified a bunch of gaps you didn’t address. It needs A LOT of work.

You check your personal email – it’s an email from the school with the subject, “Lice epidemic – school is closed at 9 am, come get your kids.”

Ugh, could this day get any worse? You wonder.

Yes, yes it can. You have no idea.

If you’re following along, and this sounds like a day you’ve had recently – what happens next? Do you discover you forgot to pack a lunch? Do you get a speeding ticket on your way home? Have to call three people to pick up your kids from school before you finally (and so gratefully) find someone? (True story).
I just want this day to be over already!

 Yes, you could go to bed right now, do not pass Go, and do not collect $200.

You also have all the control in the world to fix what you’re calling, a “bad day.”

 

You can’t control what happens to you in the course of your day, but what you can control is your reaction to what’s happening.

 

The best way to fix a crapola kind of day:

One step. Because minimalism.

When you’re in a good mood (or even in a bad one), make a list of all the things that make you happy. Don’t hold back. You can come up with at least 10. If you can come up with 100, even better. Think: chocolate, watching Dirty Dancing, lighting a candle, journaling, yoga, running, taking a nap, reading a book, hugs, kisses, etc.

When you find yourself in a no good day – bust out your feel good list and pick something. Chances are, just looking at the list is going to make you feel better.

PS – unrandom ways to make someone’s day better

 

6 ways to have waaaaay more fun while getting out the door in the morning

 

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Here’s a story from my book, Unfussy Mom

I asked my 3-year old to put her boots on at least half a dozen times. I was trying to get the kids dressed, fed, and out the door to school while simultaneously getting myself fed, dressed and off to work. The clock was ticking.

After waiting 20 minutes, and still no boots–I blew up.

I yelled, chucked her boots across the room, stormed out, and told her I’d be waiting in the car.

By the time I got to the car I felt like a huge jerk. I took a deep breath, stared up at the sky like I was asking for strength to just get through the rest of the morning.

When I came back inside after taking a chill-pill, my 6-year old son was helping her; calm, patient, and kind. All the things I wish I was. I felt like the worst human ever, then I stopped beating myself up–he must have learned that somewhere. Hopefully, it was from me.

I continued on to drop them off at school, and head to work. During my train ride, I wrote them both an apology letter.

Fast forward to dinner that night.

I wrote an apology letter to each kid just before dinner. Then I told my 6-year old how proud I was of him—he handled himself like a grown-up—a nice one.

 

“Where’d you learn that?” I asked.

“My teacher,” He replied.

“Oh, you mean I’m not calm and quiet?” I prodded.

“No mommy, you yell.”

“But not all the time right?” Really searching for some validation that I’m not a total failure.

“No.”

 

I wish I could tell you I didn’t have another episode like this, or that it was an isolated incident. I’d be lying through my wine-stained teeth.

I learned a hard lesson as I sat there squeezed into my pencil skirt.

Why am I rushing out the door and screaming at the kids just to go to a meeting? The world isn’t going to end if I’m a few minutes late – or even if I missed a meeting.

Priorities, that’s why. And mine were messed up.

Now, I’m learning to slow down. If the kids need an extra hug before they feel good enough to go off to school for the day, I’m going to give it to them. Then I’m going to go to work, and do it well.

 

 

The morning rush

How many days are you running around with your head cut off just trying to get out the door, wearing pants, making sure everyone else is wearing (clean-ish) pants, is fed and has all the signed school forms ready to go in their backpacks?

You work five days a week, sooo … five days a week, right?

You have to get out the door anyway, so you may as well make it easy on yourself, right?

Here are 6 ways to make getting out the door in the morning fun:

  1. Reset your expectations

 

If your goal is to just make every morning feel easy and fun, keep this goal in mind as you move through the morning.

 

  1. Get your butt out of bed earlier

 

Sorry, not sorry – you knew I was going to say this right? If part of the reason you can’t get out the door without screaming and yelling and running around like a sweaty psycho, maybe getting up earlier will help.

 

  1. Do it all at night

 

Doing as much as you can at night will make the morning so much easier. Make lunches, pack bags, but them by the door, or heck—put them in the car! Having cereal? Pour it the night before? Smoothie? Make it the night before. Shower at night, and lay everything out for the next morning, including have your kids pick their clothes out. Heck, if having the kids sleep in their next-day clothes—by all means, go for it! You can even go as far as putting the toothpaste on your brush at night.

 

  1. No electronics

This means TV, video games, or email. I’m totally guilty of asking my kids to dress 10 times while they’re staring at the television. Mornings started going much more smoothly when we instituted a no TV or games rule in the morning. Instead, they focus on eating breakfast and getting ready. If they have spare time, they start coloring or drawing.

 

The no email rule is for you. Stay present and you’ll be in tune with what’s happening and not start mentally doing all your work and running your to-do list in your head before you even leave the house.

 

  1. Dance it out

 

When I started playing music in the morning I noticed a shift in everyone’s moods. Try a happy playlist like this. Play it softly as background music to set the tone for the day.

You can also play this and guarantee an amazing start. Just try to be a fussy mess listening to this song.

 

  1. Mimosa anyone?

 

I’m not telling you to start day-drinking or show up to the office with a buzz. It’s more of a “mimosa-mindset.” By all means, have some champagne if you like, or, drink your OJ in a champagne flute, green juice in a wine glass. Put your toast on a nice plate, sit down, eat it, and (gasp) talk to your family.

PS – 11 things I no longer believe about the corporate world and the minimalist guide to meal planning

 

my public speaking secret – speak to Lisa

 

 

In the third grade, I had to give a speech in front of the entire school. The THIRD GRADE folks. I was 8.

It was a speech about Florida. You know, where all good Canadians go on vacation.

This is likely when my fear of public speaking kicked in.

I prepared for weeks. Wrote my speech out on cue cards, over and over again until the print was so tiny I could barely read it.

I was so nervous. When talking to Lisa, a fourth grader about this ahead of time, she said, “If you get nervous, just look at me.”

Not really sure what she meant, I got up there, in front of all 300 other kids (I didn’t say I went to a BIG school – it was everyone in Canada don’t you know).

My mouth was like cotton balls, I just wanted it to be over. Out of breath before I even started, I found Lisa in the gymnasium crowd. She told me to look at her if I was nervous right?

I found her.

She was bright eyed, sitting up straight, calm smile, head tilted to the side. She looked like she was interested in what I was saying. A friendly face.

Oh, okay. I get it now. I’ll give my speech to Lisa.

Since then, I’ve stumbled my way through many a presentation. None of these stumblings were so bad, however, that I can recall any of these details today.

If I can’t remember, I’m pretty sure my audience doesn’t remember either.

See, I was all worried about how my presentation would come off. The single biggest realization that has helped me to relax?

Everyone is so busy worrying about themselves, they’re not going to remember my screw-ups 10 years, or even 10 minutes from now. 

Also, I’m the one in the arena, not them.

Today, I give presentations all the time, and I still don’t like it.

But you know what? I do it anyway.

Getting comfortable with being uncomfortable takes constant and deliberate practice.

Hate speaking in front of groups? Here’s what I’ve learned in the 30 or so years since the third grade to un-suck speeches:

  1. Regardless of whether you’re giving a speech to 3 people or 3,000, craft it with one person in mind. You’re having a conversation with one person.
  2. Power-pose. Wonder woman poses totally happen in the bathroom. Thanks, Amy Cuddy. 
  3. Only speak about things you care about and know deeply. If I asked you to tell me about where you grew up, you’d tell me without missing a beat. But what if I asked you to give a speech on financial planning and you’re a yoga instructor? Kind of makes you want to vomit, right? Stick to what you know.
  4. Before taking the podium, hitting the stage, commanding the front of the room, say to yourself, “I’m here for my power, please.” I feel like an asshat saying this to myself, but trust me, it works. Thanks, Danielle LaPorte. 
  5. Don’t practice. Of course, this is what works for me. If I practice, I forget everything when it comes time to open my mouth. Instead, I make notes on important points to hit and trust that whatever comes out when I start to speak is what is meant to come out.
  6. Sit down. If it makes sense for the energy of your speech, sitting down will be perfectly appropriate for an intimate feel.
  7. Find your Lisa, and talk directly to her.

PS – which way to the arena? and why we’re all desperately waiting for you to stop complaing about work